Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Obama in Iowa City Sunday

Obama in Iowa City Sunday

Well placed sources confirm reports that the Barack Star, Senator Obama, will be in downtown Iowa City Sunday night (~8 PM) with Chet Culver and probably many others. Hoping to provide some coverage either live or via a guest blogger.

Happy Halloween: Amateur Month for Junk Crawlers

Happy Halloween: Amateur Month for Junk Crawlers

A non-political lead today:

The costume raid on second-hand stores extended past Iowa City's downtown. Popular items at Goodwill Stores, 985 Hollywood Blvd., included retro clothes, masks, wigs, and "all types of dresses," manager Mary Ann Garver said.

"October is our biggest month for sales," she added.

I don't do my usual junk crawling in late October; I'm too busy and the stores are too busy.

On to the politics:

The Gazette (useless "E-Edition" only) fuels an Obama in Iowa City? rumor, I'll keep you posted. Nussle launches an All My Base Are Belong To Me tour and Bob Vander Plaats is Halloween scary:

``Everything we hold dear is pushed to the center of the table,'' Vander Plaats said, listing education, the economy, and the ``culture of life'' issues of abortion, stem cell research and same-sex marriages.

The DI looks at the lowest profile election of all: Judicial retention.

Only four judges have failed to win retention since 1962, according to the Office of the Iowa Secretary of State, with the last occurring in 1994.

All 78 judges up for retention earned scores that demonstrated their competence, according to the Bar Association survey, with no judge garnering below a 71 percent rating.

My experience on these: They almost always average 80% yes, 20% no, and a close to 50% under-vote rate (i.e. people leaving them blank).

And the Register looks at all three of Steve King's opponents, which has the effect of reducing Joyce Schulte's stature to the level of the two independents. I remember a high on the ticket race once where the challenger to a very popular incumbent tried to shame the incumbent into debating by staging a forum with a half dozen third party opponents and an empty chair; the whole thing collapsed into a farce that climaxed with one candidate singing "God Bless America" in closing remarks.

Cheryl Brodersen, aunt of a young moman murdered by Israeli bulldozers, gets off the best zinger:

Brodersen opposes the massive U.S. border fence Congress already approved with King's strong support. "The joke in Denison is they are just waiting to see how tall to build the ladder."

Note to Roy Nielsen: Think about primary challenging King in `08...

Monday, October 30, 2006

New Majority Watch Polls: Even More Democratic Pickups

New Majority Watch Polls: Even More Democratic Pickups

On the charts, in the margin:

IA-02: Leach (R) 50%--48% Loebsack (D)

Not as good as ahead one, but it shows that wasn't a fluke and Dave can win this.

From the inbox: Ed Fallon says "don't write me in" and even puts it to music. Cole Porter's music, actually. Not that I've heard anyone actually discussing it.

More Fox news (I'm sorry, I just couldn't resist) from Gazette and Register.

Michael J. Fox Update

Michael J. Fox Update

Nate Koppel is liveblogging for Chris.

Eight Days Out

Eight Days Out

This blog is likely to suffer over the next eight days, as I do it on my free time and I have very little of that any more.

  • Over 1100 voters yesterday at the four Johnson County Hy-Vees. Satellite voting takes elections to where people live their real lives.

  • The AP has a story on election returns at auditor's web sites:

    More than half of Iowa's 99 counties will use a Web site to post results - a number that's grown gradually in the past few years.

    Polk County, among the first in Iowa to launch a Web site, has relayed live election results since at least 2000.

    Which is great, Mike, but Johnson County's had a web site since 1997, and was posting returns on a Gopher server (anyone else here old enough to remember that?) as far back as 1993.

    One interesting side effect has been the slow decline of an old tradition: the crowd in the courthouse (or rather the Administration Building) on election night. Used to be throngs of folks eagerly awaiting each precinct. But with live internet and cable TV, most folks just stay at the victory party (it's always the "victory party" even if you lose) rather than rubbing elbows with the other team, and the crowd has dwindled to a handful of traditionalists and reporters.

    The Polk County Auditor gets a couple other metions this morning including a well-deserved Register endorsement:

    Mauro has been the elections chief for the state's largest county for more than 20 years. He has done the job competently, with openness and high ethical standards. Those are standards all Iowans should expect from the next secretary of state. Mauro would meet them.

    And Mike met with The Invisible Woman at a forum. Hanusa would rather those 1100 busy Hy-Vee voters would make an extra trip:

    Hanusa expressed concern about the prevalence of absentee voting - originally intended as a tool for the infirm or those who would be unable to make it to the polls on Election Day.

    "There need to be safeguards in place to make sure the requirements ensure legitimate voters and protect against fraud," she said. "It needs to be looked at."

    Mauro, who said 72,000 Polk County residents cast early ballots for the 2004 general election in which President Bush won a second term, countered that absentee voting was safeguarded and that it is well-accepted by the public.

    "Early voting is here to stay, and we need to take the 'absentee' out of it," Mauro said. "I think people like it, and I think it works."

    Helping you vote vs. making it harder for you to vote. Maybe the easiest choice on the ballot.

    Driving by Republican HQ the other day I saw a cluster of signs by the road: nothing for the Invisible Woman. And they had signs along the road for one of their supervisor candidates - but not the other. Is the local GOP undercutting one of their own candidates?

    Packers Keep Ball Rolling With Win Over Cardinals, Favre scores a rushing touchdown and attempts a Lambeau Leap, and I miss it all. If they keep winning, I may just have to quit watching.
  • Sunday, October 29, 2006

    Sioux County: Life On Another Planet

    Sioux County: Life On Another Planet

    "I really respect the fact that President Bush prays for the country."

    The Register looks at Sioux County, the evil opposite of the People's Republic and the most Republican place in Iowa. It's so Republican that Jim Nussle is even willing to be seen in public with George W. Bush here next week.

    This is why Democrats in Johnson County have to work their butts off till and on Election Day, to make up for about 15 counties like this. This is where the Republicans are playing their base strategy:

    The campaign schedule of Nussle and Vander Plaats shows the significance of northwest Iowa. They campaigned last week in Spencer, Cherokee, Sioux City, Sioux Center and Storm Lake.

    "They were here early and often, and they're coming back again, and that's going to energize the base here," said state Sen. David Johnson, an Ocheyedan Republican.

    To fire up the GOP base, the party has been holding the equivalent of pep rallies in western Iowa communities, featuring King and other GOP leaders.

    "We talk about the red-meat issues of importance to Republicans, and remind them of the values that Republican candidates will defend," said state Sen. Jeff Angelo, a Creston Republican.

    Those issues include illegal immigration, abortion, gay marriage...

    This is where they think Steve King is a good moderate.

    Put it this way: if Sioux County were sawn off the rest of the state and annexed to South Dakota, John Kerry would have won Iowa. The Sioux County Bush margin was more than the STATEWIDE margin.

    No more Robot. No more BLINK tag. If you missed it, you missed it.

    Saturday, October 28, 2006

    Register Endorses Chet

    Register Endorses Chet

    Uses the phrase "big lug" at least twice: Highlights:

  • "Culver has taken his working knowledge about state government and molded it into proposals on education, economic development and renewable energy. He correctly identifies renewable energy as a historic opportunity for Iowa to remake its economy, and he has presented reasonably detailed ideas for helping it happen."

  • "Nussle has been part of a Republican inner circle infamous for all-out partisan warfare and fiscal irresponsibility. And his views against abortion in almost all circumstances are extreme. It takes a leap of faith to believe he could give up his partisan habits and govern Iowa in an inclusive, moderate manner."

  • "Making such a leap isn't necessary. The other candidate doesn't carry the Washington baggage and has prepared himself better for the job overall."

    "Chet Culver is the choice."

  • Congressional endorsements are clouded by the misguided endorsement of Leach. Why?

  • They endorsed the Democrats in the other four races and thought they needed a token Republican?

    Endorsing a clean sweep would have been a powerful statement. A token Republican is still a Bush enabler, to be judged by the company he keeps.

  • The old last refuge of scoundrels, Objectivity and Moderation.

    But if you believe in "moderation," then what is needed is a counterbalance to Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld. What is needed is a Democratic Congress and Dave Loebsack.

  • "Jim Leach was the only member of the Iowa delegation to vote against the war in Iraq. That alone is reason enough to re-elect him."

    But keeping his party in power, keeping his vote for Republican control, for Denny Hastert, only prolongs that war. A vote for Leach is a vote for Hastert, and, as the Press-Citizen wrote last week:
    It would it would seem that some of the more radical proposals Leach has offered would be much more likely to come to pass if the U.S. House was under Democratic control rather than Republican control.

    A vote for Leach is actually a vote against Leach.

    Loebsack gave a nice talk this morning at the Johnson County Dems' get out the vote training, as did Mike Mauro, Joe Bolkcom, and the staffers extrodinaire.

    Highlights from the Register's four Democratic House endorsements:

  • "What really sold us on Bruce Braley was his respect for the U.S. Constitution, which he called "one of the greatest documents written in the history of mankind." He recognizes the responsibility of Congress to uphold the Constitution and exercise oversight of the executive branch - a perspective sorely lacking in today's Washington."

  • "Jeff Lamberti argues he should be elected because 'people are ready for a change.' Iowa does need change. So does the country. But it won't happen if people send yet another toe-the-line Republican congressman to Washington.

    Leonard Boswell's experience and personal connections with people all over the world make him the better choice for representing Iowa and the country."

    I thought it was Dave Lamberti?

  • The shocker is Selden Spencer:
    "The greater good of this country outweighs the benefits of Latham's experience and seniority. Spencer was right during a recent meeting with the Register when he noted that the current Republican leadership in Washington has failed the country. And Latham has been part of the problem."

  • "This editorial board was wrong in 2002 and 2004 in recommending that Iowans elect Steve King to Congress. We (hoped) that someone who's smart, well-read and well-traveled would hearken to the better angels of his nature and make Iowa proud.

    We've given up that hope.

    King has been an embarrassment to Iowa. This space won't allow listing all his outrageous remarks and positions. There are some people who simply don't belong in Washington. Steve King is one.

    Joyce Schulte would bring a breadth of experience to Washington, and Iowa is long overdue in sending a woman to Washington."

  • I almost thought they might give independent Roy Neilsen the nod.

    I'm not seeing endorsements for the statewide Secretaries yet, though Denise O'Brien notes an endorsement from the Storm Lake paper...
  • As promised: the top headline every day

    As promised: the top headline every day

    If You Don't Register By 5:00 today YOU CAN'T VOTE

    Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!

    Chet! Chet! Chet!

    Chet! Chet! Chet!

    Press-Citizen caps off endorsement week giving Culver the nod. But the overall tone of the editorial is less Vote 4 Chet and more Don't Vote For Nussle:

    As much as we counsel against single-issue voting, the sheer number of such issues adds up fast. At a time when there is justifiable concern that the U.S. Supreme Court may decide that legalizing abortion should be an issue best left to the states, Nussle said he would support a South Dakota-style ban on all abortions accept in cases threatening the life of the mother. At a time when we're dealing with national and statewide questions of immigration reform, Nussle supports Iowa's English as the Official Language law. At a time when we're looking to improve Iowa's standards of education, Nussle's running mate, Bob Vander Plaats, suggests that we need to be teaching intelligent design along with evolution in public schools.

    And how much did THIS play into it:

    We had hoped for the chance to have Nussle explain his positions on these controversial issues in person. We met with the Green Party candidate, Wendy Barth, and the Libertarian Party candidate, Kevin Litten, but despite our repeated requests to interview Nussle, the Congressman's campaign staff was never able to find a convenient time.

    Mess with the Old Media at your own risk. Which plays into the Nussle Is Inaccessible theme that the Register was playing earlier this month. Their endorsements, by the way, are tomorrow...

    Republicans are trying to buy Iowa's congressional seats:

    Republican Mike Whalen of Bettendorf has loaned his campaign $250,000, while Republican Jeff Lamberti of Ankeny has loaned his campaign $150,000, according to reports filed late Thursday that reflect activity Oct. 1 through Oct. 18.

    The Register article doesn't mention Jim Leach's earlier $187,000 debt to himself.

    Loebsack and Leach do Iowa Press this weekend and the Register lead looks at Leach's old boss:

    Leach described Rumsfeld as a friend whom he had known a long time. In 1965 and 1966, Leach worked on Rumsfeld's staff when Rumsfeld was a congressman from Illinois. In 1969 and 1970, Leach was a special assistant to Rumsfeld when Rumsfeld was director of the Office of Economic Opportunity during the Nixon administration. Leach was first elected to Congress in 1976.

    Tangent: The top ten hits the week Jim Leach was first elected included:

  • "Muskrat Love", the Captain and Tennille
  • "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot; one of my personal favorites with my northern Wisconsin roots, I used to have all 572 verses memorized
  • And who can forget: "Disco Duck" by Rick Dees!

    Number One was Steve Miller's geography lesson and Free riff ripoff, "Rock'n Me." Is that rockING me or rock AND me? Steve, the route from Phoeniz, AZ to Northern California (noted for high female body temperatures) is shorter if you bypass Tacoma, Philadelphia, Atlanta and LA. Were those stops on the Fly Like An Eagle `76 tour? And PLEASE tell us what The Pompatus Of Love is.

    So much has changed in the world of music, so little has changed in Eastern Iowa congressional representation. Back to the 21st century:

    Loebsack said Rumsfeld should be booted from his job for mishandling the war in Iraq and alienating American allies.

    "He's mismanaged the war. He also led us astray before the war. We need the countries Donald Rumsfeld called 'Old Europe' and alienated."

    The Reg also looks at the most expensive legislative races. They include a handy-dandy chart that's unfortunately an illegible graphic in the online edition. Basically, if you're seeing the race on TV, it's on this list. TV is a hugely wasteful expense in a race the scale of an Iowa legislative race. Let's say you have a bottle of miracle spot remover. A $4 bottle will remove any stain possible in one square foot of carpet. Great, right? Catch is: to use it, you have to spray it on the whole room, so it costs $400 to treat a 10 x 10 room. That's TV in an Iowa House race.

    Living a political life I miss out on a lot of normal life in even-numbered falls. Things like Halloween and the World Series. I didn't really zoom in on either until I took a couple of rare free hours for an all too necessary trip to the laundromat and saw folks marching to the bars in costume and caught a few innings as the Birdies beat the Kitties.

    And of course, being a junkie of my own ball game, I paid more attention to the political ads than the baseball. The new Nussle ad is bizarre:

    I'm Jim Nussle.
    Negative campaigning is bad.
    My wife version 2.0 loves me.
    Here's some pictures of horsies and puppies and some pretty music.

    I don't recall if there were actual puppies, but you get the idea. Looked like a stock Iowa tourism spot with a new voiceover. And I'm not trying to pick on anyone's marriage - my own attempt failed - but if you're going to campaign on "family values" (sic), if you're going to film ads with your own special needs child, then you get back what you dish out.

    Anyway they're singing a rousing chorus of "We Are The Champions" in St. Louis and Johnson County Treasurer Tom Kriz, a major Cards fan, is no doubt elated today. A tall cold Bud toast to the Cardinals.
  • Friday, October 27, 2006

    The DI actually has a story today

    The DI actually has a story today

    If You Don't Register By Saturday YOU CAN'T VOTE

    Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!

    Making Loebsack's Case While Missing The Point

    Making Loebsack's Case While Missing The Point

    The Press-Citizen does a very good job of making the case for Dave Loebsack...

    The Loebsack supporters' third argument is the most effective: If Leach is going to be at odds with his party on so many issues, wouldn't it make sense to vote for a candidate whose party actually advocates those same issues? As powerful as the office of U.S. Representative is, a lone representative can accomplish little without caucusing with other members and without appealing to the party leadership.

    Indeed, it would it would seem that some of the more radical proposals Leach has offered would be much more likely to come to pass if the U.S. House was under Democratic control rather than Republican control. This is especially true of his 'Declare Democracy and Get Out' call for an immediate drawdown of our troops in Iraq...

    but then reverts to that old crutch of Objective Journalists: We luv moderates.

    But that doesn't mean that we should punish Leach for speaking his mind to his party's leaders. Although we would agree that Leach could be a more active force for his moderate politics, he is hardly without influence in Washington. He still has the ear of the key decision makers, including that of his former boss, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld...

    Which would explain why Leach hasn't joined Loebsack in calling for Rumsfeld's sacking.

    Muddled moderation might have had a place back in the disco era when Leach was first elected, but these days the parties actually stand for something, and Leach chooses to stand with Bush and Rumsfeld and Hastert and Steve King.

    Federal campaign finance reports show Loebsack outraising Leach:

    Loebsack reported to the Federal Election Commission that he received $52,000 in contributions between Oct. 1 and Oct. 18. Reports were due Thursday.

    Leach said he received about $16,000 in the 18-day period.

    The struggle continues: Thanks to the New Jersey courts, gay marriage moves to the front burner. Register rounds up Culver and Nussle. Chet's wrong, Nussle's waaaaay more wrong. Or: Chet wusses out, but Nussle really means it.

    I'm tired of settling for wussing out. Ultimately we need to get to the point where an Iowa politician can say publicly "I fully support gay marriage" without it being political suicide. I'd like to see it just because it makes the theocrats so disproportionately mad, and their faces turn the loveliest shades of red and purple.

    While Culver has slammed the door in the faces of Iowa's gay community in opposing marriage, he is at least anticipating a less bigoted future. In opposing a constitutional amendment, Culver leaves that door unlocked. He supports some expansion of rights, which may be akin to letting folks sleep in the barn. Second class accomodations but somewhat warmer that the snowbank. Nussle chases gay Iowans off the farm with a shotgun, locks the door, throws away the key, and nails it shut.

    True, neither one invites folks into the house for dinner - but do you see a difference?

    Thursday, October 26, 2006

    Like I Said Yesterday

    Like I said yesterday, this should be the headline every day:

    If You Don't Register By Saturday YOU CAN'T VOTE

    Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!

    Send The Senators Back, Says PC

    Send The Senators Back, Says PC

    Endorsement week continues and the senate incumbents get the nod:

    Christensen-Szalanski's opinions on a number of hot-button issues differ widely from Bolkcom's -- for example, he supports a constitutional amendment defining marriage as well as supports restrictions on embryonic stem cell research -- yet Christensen-Szalanski has focused his campaign on proposing a more narrow definition of the role that state government should play.

    His main critique of Bolkcom is the two-term senator's low number of introduced bills that actually make it through the legislative process. Bolkcom's large number of bills, however, is not anything for which he needs to apologize. As Bolkcom has discovered repeatedly in the last eight years, there are times when merely offering a bill will draw enough public scrutiny to an issue that the participants take actions that render legislation unnecessary. And, when the legislative climate is strongly against passing a bill, it sometimes takes multiple sessions to wear down lawmakers' opposition. If nothing else, these bills offer proof to Bolkcom's constituents that he is listening to their concerns and working toward enacting their wishes.

    I'm thinking of Joe's leadership on payday loan sharking. Also, my third party friends, before you stubornly cast an "independent" vote, Bolkcom is virtualy the ONLY legislator interested in easing Iowa's incredibly strict definition of party status so you can get your precious G or L on your voter card. (Aside to my Democratic friends: drop your Nader grudge and help Joe. If the Greens get their G's on their cards, they might be able to skip that top of the ticket race in 2008)

    The endorsement of Republican Dave Miller is incredibly weak:

    He has a reputation for not being accessible to his constituents and for not being present at a number of key votes in the Legislature. Not only is he not the most charismatic of politicians, but he also had the nerve to come to an interview with the Press-Citizen's editorial board and offer some of the most virulent anti-higher education rhetoric we've ever heard. We urge everyone to convince him there is value to state universities beyond their role as engines of economic development.

    Please. God. No.

    OK, so it's just the dimwitted Robert Movak but it's close enough to Halloween to be scary:

    Mark Warner's decision to withdraw from consideration for the 2008 presidential nomination has produced speculation at high levels of the Democratic Party that former Vice President Al Gore may run again...

    Two unpopular major party candidates, shades of Minnesota 1998?

    In the Illinois gubernatorial race, a new SurveyUSA poll shows the support of both Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) and challenger Judy Baar Topinka (R) down, with Green Party candidate Rich Whitney surging.

    Blogojevich leads with 44%, while Topinka gets 34% and Whitney pulls an astonishing 14%.

    Key finding: 'Among Illinois independents, the candidates are effectively tied: Topinka gets 31%, Whitney 29%, Blagojevich 27%.'"

    Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    Limbaugh Will Just Say He's Faking It

    Limbaugh Will Just Say He's Faking It

    Michael J. Fox is scheduled to campaign for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Chet Culver on Monday, aides to the actor and stem-cell research advocate said, drawing attention to the issue in the competitive campaign in Iowa...

    See the ads running in Missouri and Maryland. Mojo Nixon was wrong: Michael J. Fox has a lot of Elvis in him. Every kid has heard his voice acting in cartoons, and every voting parent grew up with Marty McFly pushing that DeLorean to 88 MPH. Why is the GOP so foolish to attack someone who's as genuinely beloved as Fox?

    I'd rather have Michael J. Fox campaigning for me than George W. Bush, the true anti-Elvis. So, apparantly, would Jim Nussle:

    Nussle is not scheduled to be at (Bush's) Des Moines appearance, even though Nussle will be in town.

    Republicans said Nussle had a scheduling conflict. At noon Thursday, he is slated to speak at the Rotary Club of Des Moines.

    Regular Guy Quote Of The Day:

    "I was there. I like football and I like girls. I don't have no apologies for that." - Rep Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN), quoted by the Memphis Commerical Appeal, on attending a Playboy-sponsored party at the 2005 Super Bowl.

    The GOP is running attack ads on this but I think it WINS him votes. By the way Governor Vilsack, when are we getting that totally nude dancing you promised?

    Speaking of that ad, its specter resurfaced this week in response to GOP claims that Culver has a Secret Plan To Bring Back Touch Play:

    'This is crazier than 1998 and totally nude dancing,' said Gronstal, referring to an election-year claim by then-GOP gubernatorial candidate Jim Ross Lightfoot that a Senate vote by opponent Tom Vilsack meant there would be a proliferation of 'juice bars' if Vilsack were elected governor.

    "Regardless of the outcome of this election, there is no way there are the votes in the Senate or in the House to reinstate Touch-Play. They know that, period, end of discussion. We're not going to flip the switch and turn these machines back on."

    As for any alleged sweetheart settlements, the courts will figure all that out. The Touch Play "issue" is a desperate move by a desperate man.

    The Deadline Draweth Nigh

    The Deadline Draweth Nigh

    The Register actually runs a story noting Saturday's voter registration deadline. It's amazing how little attention this gets. I wish it were the top story on every newscast and above the fold on every front page for a solid week before the deadline:

    If You Don't Register By Saturday YOU CAN'T VOTE

    Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!

    I'm really sorry about that BLINK tag. But drastic measures are required and Robot should DEFINITELY be the spokesperson, or spokes-robot. The Red Alert sound from Classic Star Trek should also be used.

    That's what it would take to make it sink in - a massive coordinated all-media effort. (For all the talk of new technology, and all the microcasting capability of cable, the local 6:00 newscast is what sinks in on the real, non-political person level.)

    Actually, while I'm making wishes I'll wish for the election day registration I grew up with in Wisconsin.

    Either way, next week I get to start telling folks "I'm sorry, you missed the deadline, you can't vote." My absolute least favorite work task. So make my job easier, get folks registered.

    Early voting today at the IMU, and Chet's in town mid-day.

    In today's endorsements the Press-Citizen looks at state rep races. The Dems get two out of three. They give Clara Oleson a thumbs down:

    Oleson's attack on Kaufmann seems to be myopic nitpicking rather than a substantial critique. After all, groups like the Iowa State Education Association and the Iowa Bar Association have moved across the expected ideological and occupational divide to endorse Kaufmann.

    Ro Foege gets the nod for another term:

    Foege has proven himself a key player in many of the social-service issues that we care about on the state level -- issues that don't always lend themselves to a high amount of media attention.

    Here's the nice surprise:

    Mark Nolte's ideas come after years of experience working with disadvantaged populations through programs with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Department of Labor and the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

    Raised in small-town Iowa, Nolte knows the agricultural economy as well. He told the editorial board that he "probably knows the ag issues better than the regents issues," but that statement places the bar high because we found him well-versed in the UI community's coverns with having its needs made known to state legislators.

    Although we commend Greiner's recent work on restructuring how farmers store their grain in order to facilitate the alternative energy revolution that other politicians dream about, we don't think that she fully grasps the public-sector concerns facing her state and her district. We thank Greiner for her years of service, but we find that Nolte offers the right mix of experience for District 89 residents.

    Congrats to Mark and Ro.

    Rekha Basu picks up on recent remarks by Bob Vander Plaats:

    The Ames Daily Tribune quoted Vander Plaats, a former school teacher and principal, as telling Iowa State University students in a meeting earlier this month: 'If we are going to teach evolution, there is another viewpoint and one that holds pretty good too in regards to creation. I think that is something that I would want to visit further along with Jim Nussle in regards to 'Where are you at on that?' But my viewpoint is I would like to give both of these (time in the classroom).'

    If it weren't crazy season I would have considered a writeup of Cindy Sheehan's speech last night, but right now I'm having trouble figuring out when I'm going to get the laundry done. So here's the links:

  • Press-citizen
  • Gazette
  • DI
  • Tuesday, October 24, 2006

    Endorsement Season Starts

    Endorsement Season Starts

    I find endorsement season deeply frustrating, as the old media bends over backwards to split their ticket in sacrifice to the altar of their false god of objectivity.

    Today the Press-Citizen starts with endorsements and feels the need to devote a great deal of their editorial endorsing the two Democrats - Larry Meyers and Sally Stutsman - to a weak case for making the office non-partisan.

    Partisanship is under-rated and unjustly maligned. The parties are more than labels these days and in choosing to affiliate with one and run with one, candidates make a powerful statement about their overall philosophy of government. From the courthouse to the US House, we're choosing between folks who associate themselves with the rich get richer philosophy of Reagan and the Bushes, or Democrats who believe in fairness for the less powerful.

    Jim Leach wants to live in the old world and pretend partisanship doesn't matter, as he addresses Kirkwood students:

    'I will present myself as a candidate who will build up the center and serve as a bridge between the parties,' Leach, R-Iowa, said. 'What we need in this Congress are people who are more in the center, and they can be Democrats or Republicans.'

    That bridge, like Don Young's bridge to an unpopulated island in Alaska, goes nowhere in 2006. Except perhaps to a newspaper endorsement, or a wasted vote by a misguided progressive who is taught by editorial boards that straight tickets are bad manners.

    Dave Loebsack is more realistic:
    Loebsack said "millions of Americans and thousands of Iowans" have been harmed by policies set forth by the Bush Administration and the GOP-controlled Congress. Loebsack also refuted previous claims that he and his opponent share similar views.

    "We are different folks," he said. "I would never claim that my opponent is Jim Nussle or Tom DeLay or Steve King, but he is the only Republican running in this race, and I'm the only Democrat. That's a big difference to me."

    Loebsack said he would vote for a minimum-wage increase of at least $2.10 an hour, repeal tax cuts for the wealthy, call for immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq and redirect funds to help support other programs such as Pell Grants.

    "It matters which party is in power and right now, the Republican-controlled Congress has no interest in calling George Bush on the carpet," Loebsack said. "There's been no oversight in this Congress."

    This is the year to save some ballot marking time and make a statement, which is why I made my own endorsement a couple weeks back: straight ticket Dem.

    The BBC checks in with former Clash drummer Terry Chimes (billed as "Tory Crimes" on the first album, hee hee hee) who is now of all things a chiropractor.

    Monday, October 23, 2006

    Growing Absentee Voting Is Reshaping Campaign

    Growing Absentee Voting Is Reshaping Campaigns

    New York Times notices early voting:

    Candidates are maneuvering to adapt to a changed political calendar, accelerating their advertising, their mailings and their get-out-the-vote calls.

    "Love it or hate it, it’s the wave of the future," said Art Torres, chairman of the California Democratic Party. "Election Day started here on Oct. 10 and lasts 29 days."

    A decade ago those who took advantage of absentee ballots tended to be relatively well off and highly educated, with Republicans outnumbering Democrats by almost two to one. But as the ease of early voting has spread, the ratio is slipping and some analysts say that nearly as many Democrats as Republicans now vote early...

    Nearly as many? Not so in Iowa says the Reg:

    Democrats have requested nearly twice as many absentee ballots as Republicans, an edge that Democratic operatives said could be a key to ensuring a big turnout Nov. 7.

    State election officials said that as of the weekly count on Oct. 18, 136,796 absentee ballots had been sent to voters, including 77,611 to Democrats and 38,192 to Republicans.

    “It could make a difference of a point or two, and I’ll take that this year,” said veteran Democratic strategist Jeff Link.

    Republicans respond by touting their last second get out the vote effort, without mentioning the big November 5th fetus on the windshield church lit drops.

    Oops, I wan't supposed to know about that.

    Anyway the NYT has a map illustrating the general westward prevalence of early voting (New York is in the low end, may be part of why the national pundit types are behind the curve here).

    Every time. I skip watching the game, the Pack wins:
    The last time the Packers won in South Florida was in Vince Lombardi's final game as their coach in the 1968 Super Bowl against Oakland.

    Which would be the anticlimactic Game After The Ice Bowl.

    Taking Weird Al Seriously

    Taking Weird Al Seriously

    It's one thing to go platinum. Where do you go from there? Then Weird Al calls. - Chamillionaire, whose "Ridin' Dirty" was parodied by Weird Al Yankovic as "White And Nerdy"

    As a self proclaimed geek I'm enjoying the pop culture moment of "White And Nerdy," Weird Al Yankovic's first bona fide top ten single (even his seminal work "Eat It" stalled at Number Twelve).

    Back in college speech I specialized in what we called "After Dinner Speaking" - an essentially humourous speech which was supposed to make some actual serious point. Kind of like a Dennis Miller rant. Some did it better than others. This time, Weird Al pulls it off, and "White And Nerdy" is more immediate and relevant than anything he's made in ages:

    The video touches, lightly but deftly, on the demographic paradox at the heart of hip-hop: the suburban white kid as the core audience of the culture's most commodified example of urban black cool...

    Even better, he does it in a way that's true to his own ubergeek persona - for who could possible be more white and nerdy than Weird Al? I'm amazed he doesn't include himself in his litany of geek obsessions:

    I could sure kick your butt in a game of ping pong
    I'll ace any trivia quiz you bring on
    I'm fluent in JavaScript as well as Klingon

    Shoppin' online for deals on some writable media
    I edit Wikipedia
    I memorized "Holy Grail" really well
    I can recite it right now and have you ROTFLOL
    I got a business doin' web sites
    When my friends need some code, who do they call?
    I do HTML for 'em all

    I have met the parody and he is me. Have I become the Onion's Larry "Don't Come Crying To Me When You Need Someone Who Speaks Elvish" Groznic?

    There are many more facts I could contribute, such as the Dr. Demento Society's yearly Christmas re-release of material from Dr. Demento's Basement Tapes, which often includes an unreleased track from Mr. Yankovic's vaults, such as "Pacman," "It's Still Billy Joel To Me," or the demos for "I Love Rocky Road." In an ideal world, an entry on "Weird Al" might remark on the subtleties of "Happy Birthday," which can only be found on the extremely rare 1981 Placebo EP release of "Another One Rides The Bus," but I certainly no longer believe this world to be ideal.

    Does blogging about Weird Al make you even more white and nerdy than Weird Al?

    More Proof That I Am In Fact One Of The High Fidelity Guys

    More Proof That I Am In Fact One Of The High Fidelity Guys

    I see a post titled Greatest “Last Tracks” on an Album and I cannot stop until I dig through my CD collection to make a list. Even John Cusack and Jack Black only did the top five FIRST tracks.

    I posted my list but give the guy who had the idea in the first place some traffic love to see my picks.

    Sunday, October 22, 2006

    Welcome to America's new Prohibition - Analysis - Times Online

    Welcome to America's new Prohibition

    I'm not a big fan of gambling but I'm even less of a fan of being told what I can't do. And with my aversion to unenforcable laws of all sorts, I must note Jim Leach's Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. So do the Brits:

    "Religious leaders of all denominations and faiths are seeing gambling problems erode family values," said Iowa Republican Jim Leach.

    Mister Moderate going on about "family values" makes Jim Leach sound a lot like... a Republican!

    Once again in America, it seems that God is helping Mammon: Mr. Leach’s law promises to spawn another underground industry to serve Americans living under the new Prohibition. The industry was adamant that, far from stopping internet gambling, the move would simply drive the business underground. As one senior executive said at the time: "The happiest person about this ban will be Don Corleone."

    Yes! An excuse for a Godfather reference?

    VITO CORLEONE: ...gambling or liquor -- even women -- which is something that most people want nowadays, and is, ah, forbidden to them by the pezzonovante of the Church.

    Leach Flip-flops on his Flip-flop on Negative Mailings

    Leach Flip-flops on his Flip-flop on Negative Mailings

    From Leach's site:

    The Republican Party of Iowa sincerely apologizes to the voters of the 2nd District for the tone of the mail that was sent out regarding the race for congress in the 2nd District. The mail was sent without Congressman Leach’s knowledge and against his wishes. The Republican Party of Iowa will abide by Congressman Leach’s request that we cease and desist any future mailings about his opponent.

    Couple o' things:

  • How about apologizing to, say, Dave Loebsack?
  • We all know Leach doesn't have much clout anymore, but you mean to tell me he has so little influence that he can't even get his own state party to stop negative mailers the first time he asked?

    This is the kind of apology you get when your four year old takes his brother's toy after being told not to, and you say "tell your brother you're sorry." You get the right words but you know he didn't mean it, and you know he'll do it again sometime when you're not looking. Which is to be understood if you're teaching a little kid, but not acceptable from a 30 year incumbent congressman.
  • Leach Flip-flops on Negative Mailings

    Leach Flip-flops on Negative Mailings

    Last week:

    Noting that he has requested that outside parties not participate with independent expenditures in his Congressional race, Leach requested the party to cease and desist mailings in his district.

    Leach noted that he was “appalled” by the negative nature of the material the party developed.

    This week: The Iowa Republican Party has sent out a mailer saying Dave Loebsack would bring "San Francisco values" to Iowa, and essentially that he would force gay marriage on us, while not supporting "traditional" values. I guess Leach's "integrity" wavers when he's a point behind.

    Gay bashing isn't just evil, it's bad politics too says Rekha Basu:

    The study puts the total number of gay adults and bisexuals in Iowa at 62,494. That could be enough to give a candidate for statewide office the edge. Gov. Tom Vilsack, for example, beat Jim Ross Lightfoot by 56,000 votes in 1998.

    Iowa's Republican platform spares almost no aspect of gay life. Now it may be payback time.

    The opponents of public education are getting involved in Iowa, too, says the Register:
    The Iowa political arm of All Children Matter, a group based in Michigan, has contributed $10,000 to the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle and made smaller donations to 62 legislative candidates...

    The voucher/"school choice" movement is essentially an elaborate scam with neo-segregationist roots to bit by bit undercut support for public education. Taxpayer support for public education is deeply rooted in American history, back to township schools and land-grant colleges, but the theocratic wing of the GOP wants to uproot the learning tree and let it die.

    Yesterday was probably my last full human being day before November 7. It's one of my great frustrations as a political blogger: right as interest peaks, my free time shrinks to zero. I'll try to keep my loyal readers satisfied and entertained, but if I miss a day, that's just how it is for me as the clock ticks down.

    Friday, October 20, 2006

    From the Republicans Don't Want You To Vote Files

    From the Republicans Don't Want You To Vote Files

    Hundreds of thousands of voters-- mostly urban apartment dwellers (likely black) and students-- who are primarily Democratic-- were sent notifications that they would be purged from the eligible voter lists if they did not respond the letter. But, reportedly, the letter was designed to be easily overlooked, perhaps treated as junk mail. Failure to send in a response caused the voter to be removed from the voting roll...

    State and federal officials were investigating the letter, which was written in Spanish and mailed to an estimated 14,000 Democratic voters in central Orange County. It warns, "You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time."

    Debate in the blogosphere: Pressure on the `08 wannabees - particularly Bayh, Kerry, Dodd, and Biden - to cough up some emergency cash for challenger candidates at this particular advantageous moment. Kos:
    I don't care how much these guys have raised via campaign rallies and the like. At this point, with the only thing standing between us dramatically expanding the playing field is cash, these 2008 hopefuls need to pony up.

    They can hoard that cash. That's their prerogative. But we shouldn't forget when they ask us to sacrifice for their efforts in 2008. The time is now. Those that pay their share should be properly applauded, those who refuse, well, they can explain to use why they were too cheap to help out their party and country when it needed them most.

    Jerome Armstrong disagrees:
    I think overall, that all of the '08 Democratic wannabees have done a much better than usual effort. Kerry has used his massive '04 list to help more candidates than anyone; Bayh has bodies on the ground and is working Indiana's CD seats; Clinton gave millions and hits the path; Edwards has been doing more personal fundraisers than anyone; Fiengold's online contests have supported innovative candidates; who knows about Obama as a wannabee, but he's certainly worked plenty; Richardson is present... Dodd & Biden, I dunno, but that probably doesn't really matter...

    Hard for me to judge because I'm a spoiled Iowan having seen Bayh, Dodd, Edwards, Kerry, Obama and (never mind) Warner just this fall. Not to mention the spouse of the junior senator from New York.

    Speaking of $$$, Chris at Political Forecast does the campaign finance report homework on governor and on sec of state and sec of ag. Wish I had the time...

    So why in the middle of insane election season am I spending my tiny tidbits of free time writing this blog? Well, because that's when you're reading for one thing. But I think this scene from classic Star Trek captures me best:

    Kirk moves up and peers at the title of the tape that Scotty is reading.
    KIRK: Another technical journal?
    SCOTTY: Aye, why shouldn't I?
    KIRK: Mr. Scott, don't you ever relax?
    SCOTTY: (puzzled) But I am relaxin'!

    Or, in honor of the gone but not forgotten Jim Traficant, beam me up.

    (Courtesy link to the source but fair warning: 294 page .pdf)

    Loebsack and Leach met again last night with an audience of high school students. DI:

    From the beginning, Loebsack urged replacing the Republican-controlled Congress with a Democratic majority to reverse "politics as usual" in Washington. While Leach tried to erect a solid wall between him and his party during the forum, Loebsack explained how being raised by a poor, mentally ill, single mother in Sioux City fostered his belief in "helping those who need help most," which he called a central Democratic doctrine.

    The Cornell College professor asserted that, despite their agreement on some issues, a vote for Leach is a vote for a failing Republican majority.

    Leach, in closing, aimed to separate himself considerably from his party. "To be on the side of a party and to have conviction are not synonymous."

    Or: just because I support George Bush, campaigned with Dick Cheney,and worked for Donald Rumsfeld, it doesn't really MEAN anything...

    Loebsack, a 24-year political science professor at Cornell College in Mount Vernon and first-time public office seeker, said he would offer an alternative voice to President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress. He also touted education as a priority and said bans on stem cell research should be lifted.

    I razzed the PC yesterday and in fairness I should note that the print edition did have some coverage of Wednesday's peace rally - a photo and caption on page 3 - and a wire service story on war casualties above the fold on page one. Neither was in the on-line version. I still think "how to upgrade your cable to watch the Hawks" was placed too prominently; put the peace rally on page one and the cable story in the paid advertising where it belongs.

    Thursday, October 19, 2006

    I Voted For Mike Mauro Twice

    I Voted For Mike Mauro Twice

    Once for real - has it really been two weeks already since I voted?

    Then I voted for Mike Mauro again in Russ Feingold's latest Progressive Patriots Fund ballot.

    The Progressive Patriots Fund will make a $5,000 contribution to the winner's campaign, as well as other candidates, totaling $15,000.

    I'm sure the next Secretary of State would like ONE vote from each of you in both contests.

    Our English Language: Creative Use, Objective Abuse

    Our English Language: Creative Use, Objective Abuse

    English is not the only language, but it's a fun language and I enjoy it when used well.

    In Debate Train to Crazy Town, Matt Stoller on MyDD takes a hilarious look at the Connecticut Senate debate and does one of the best Hunter Thompson riffs I've seen in a long time:
    Connecticut Election 2006 has gone off the deep end. It's not your normal white picket fence suburban election, with attack ad facing attack ad. No, this is more like a white picket fence election that suddenly gets bored with life and decides to live in the forest, take a bunch of LSD, trout-fish naked, and taunt a bear cub before ending its life suddenly and with total and inexplicable resolution on November 7.

    What has happened is that Joe Lieberman competed in a Democratic primary, lost, and is now competing in a Republican primary, and is losing again.

    Gonzo imagery, gonzo insight.

    Meanwhile the Gazette indulges in anti-union stereotyping in this lead:
    Residents here are going to learn something about their new city manager in the next week or two and about whether he will appear to kowtow to labor interests on the City Council -- his employer.

    Invoking the ghost of Jimmy Hoffa. Nice kneecaps youse got dere. Shame if anyting happened to dem.

    Language is also a matter of choices and omission. Peace rally in Iowa City; only the DI bothers with coverage. The Press-Citizen instead leads with the burning question about whether school clubs are having too many cookie sales to raise money, and a de facto Mediacom ad on how to upgrade your cable to watch the Hawks Saturday.

    Wednesday, October 18, 2006

    Another Poll, Another Culver Lead

    Another Poll, Another Culver Lead

    KCCI this time: Culver by 5, 49-44. Reasonably consistent with the Register's +7.

    Secratary of State has Mike Mauro 12 points ahead of The Invisible Woman.

    Looks like they didn't poll the Ag Secretary race. But this landed in the in box under Sally Pederson's name:

    Just when you thought it was safe to go back to your television, along comes yet another unaccountable special interest group spreading misleading negative political attacks against Democrats.

    They are called "Iowans for Agriculture," and the more real Iowans know about this unregulated 527 group, the fewer will fall victim to their attempt to buy this election.

    What do we know about "Iowans for Agriculture?" 527s are so unregulated that we know almost nothing.

    Their TV ads start airing Monday, October 23rd. Please forward this email to everyone who might vote in November, so that they know "Iowans for Agriculture" is just another secretive group trying to mislead them into voting for Republicans.

    The un-natural, politician-ese, TV-ad styled language left me cold... "Please forward this email" sounds too much like "CALL Congressman Slughorn, and TELL him you're AGAINST spending OUR tax dollars on boiling puppies ALIVE." But on reflection, it's interesting that IDP felt the need to issue this sort of inoculation. What race do you think this is about? Governor or Sec of Ag? (Probably governor; I don't recall any TV ever in a downballot Iowa statewide race.) And how over the top is it gonna be?

    Objectivity is Overrated

    Objectivity is Overrated

    TalkLeft sums up the case against the paradigm of objective Journalism:

    The utter disrespect for the truth exhibited by all media is the heart of the problem. Liars are not called liars. Falsehoods are not called falsehoods. What passes for reporting these days is 'Republicans say . Democrats say __.' When someone spews falsehoods, there is not a Media outlet in the country that will say 'that is false.'

    Skipped out on Chris Dodd las night for some family time. Here's links:

  • Dodd
  • Dodd
  • Dodd
  • Kerry
  • Kerry
  • Kerry
  • Daily Kos: Keeping people off the voter rolls

    Daily Kos: Keeping people off the voter rolls

    Kos echoes my thoughs exactly:

    Too many people are singularly obsessed with Diebold machines, not noticing that black boxes aren't necessary to keep people from voting.

    The Conyers report is quite depressing, yet none of it had anything to do with electronic voting machines. It was stuff like inaccurate felon lists, not enough machines in urban districts forcing people to wait in line for up to 8 hours to vote, while in conservative-leaning suburbs, voters were in and out in 15 minutes, thugs outside of polling places, Republican poll observers making bullshit challenges to slow down the lines, ensuring that absentee ballots going to Dem-leaning areas were "lost", and so on.

    Voter integrity issues run far wider and deeper than just electronic voting machines.

    Tuesday, October 17, 2006

    Culver and Kerry in Iowa City

    Culver and Kerry in Iowa City

    Pseudo-live at Vito’s for Chet Culver and John Kerry. I’m seeing signals but they don’t seem to like me. Channel 7’s here and so is the dean, Mike Glover. Lots of the local politicos here. Heard someone asking Larry Meyers about the split ticket signs: “I’ve got nothing to do with it.”

    Speaking of yard signs, the signs for Joe Bolkcom’s “independent” opponent seem to be showing up only in GOP yards…

    We’ve also got the sheriff, the senators, the county attorneys old and new, and most of the supervisors. Lunch is deemed “amazingly good”

    The guests of honor arrive on campaign standard time (12:38) along with more TV and radio. Stage lighting is dual disco balls, let’s hope Chet and John don’t dance… where are the Nussle Hustlers when we need them?

    Our MC is Rod Sullivan doing the local intros and professor Jim Throgmorton intros the speakers. Mari Culver’s here too accompanying The Big Lug (her line not mine). “I want a governor who knows what it’s like inside the classroom.”

    We must be over 150 folks here. Kerry goes first. “I was on CSPAN this weekend, most of the Republicans I saw were on Cops.”

    He skips the re-introduction of every politician in the room. Sticking to the Iowa Values vs. Washington Values Culver message. He’s tie-less, wonder if Dick Myers auctioned it off? Now moving to veterans’ issues, touching on his own service and swiftboating. Ties it back to Nussle voting record.

    Energy independence is a “four-fer”: jobs, health, environment, and national security.

    I don’t know if it’s just me, but congressional pay raises just don’t resonate for me as an issue.

    “Iowa doesn’t need Texas $ to tell you what to do and mess up Chet Culver’s reputation.” Wrapping up with the traditional get out the vote call to action. Successfully amps up the crowd for giving Chet the biggest round of applause thus far.

    Culver steps up to speak and Mari steps up along side him (she’s been higher profile lately). Says Republicans who’ve had enough have joined us, and Dems are proud to be inclusive.

    Chet’s sounding sharper and more confident these day. The poll? Time on the trail? Finding his voice? In any case he’s sounding more extemporaneous, more comfortable… like a winner. Pretty good for side by side with the 2004 presidential nominee.

    “You can run but you can’t hide from a bad 16 year record in DC.” I’ll put my last 16 years against his any day. Mentions the bully bill (yay)

    A few minutes for education, some time for energy. The call to action and a call for sleep deprivation. “We’re unlimited in terms of how big this year could be.”

    He wraps up and my seatmates say “he’s gotten better!”

    Media scrum surrounds Kerry; regular folks are talking to Culver. I decide to be a regular folk.

    Outside after the event some young Republicans try to disrupt Chet's interviews by standing behind him and singing "Kum Bah Yah" loudly. Tip, guys, next time don't do it wearing Nussle and Leach shirts. Kinda makes you stand out...

    DesMoinesRegister.comDebate Daily Double A Day Late: Culver-Nussle

    Debate Daily Double A Day Late: Culver-Nussle

    Relying on old media a bit this AM. Sounds like, in sharp contrast to Loebsack-Leach, Culver-Nussle got nasty. Or rather, reading between the Register's lines, Nussle got nasty:
    The two broke little new ground as issues took a back seat to credentials.

    The questions were from Quad-City Times readers and editorial board and focused on hot-button issues such as gay marriage, immigration, abortion and stem cell research.

    Nussle's call for eliminating the secretary of state's office was new, although the issue has been part of the Iowa Republican Party's platform for several years.

    Guess that's why they're running an invisible candidate for the office.

    Nussle accused Culver of a 'leadership experience gap' during Monday's debate, while Culver retorted that Nussle's role in Congress is a warning sign for what he would do as governor.

    'This race really boils down to one question: Would you be better off running things in Iowa the way U.S. Rep. Nussle and President Bush run things in Washington D.C.?' Culver said. 'I'm proud of my experience of more than 20 years in Iowa.'

    Gazette pulls the same quote and adds:
    Culver noted that previous Iowa governors, like Robert Ray and Harold Hughes, entered the post with far less or no similar government experience and did exemplary work. He also said he would gladly put his experience and record up against Nussle's 16-year legacy in Congress that saw a record surplus become a record deficit under GOP leadership.

    The host paper the QCTimes picked up on a point that Gordon Fisher thought was critical:

    At one point, Culver passed up what he called the chance to level a “personal attack” and asked Nussle to tell voters “something they might not know about you.”

    There was a rumble, then laughter, in the audience, and Nussle replied: “I think at this critical juncture in Iowa’s history and certainly meeting the challenges of the future, I think you could probably think of a more profound question than that.”

    Not a "you're no Jack Kennedy" moment, but certainly a George Bush Sr. checking his watch moment. Reading between the lines, it looks like Nussle took the harsh, aggressive, running behind stance.

    As for the other debate, here's the host Gazette:

    Leach said bringing troops home from Iraq would enable the United states to devote more attention to other world trouble spots such as Iran and North Korea. Doing so would also enable the nation to address foreign policy with restraint and deal with domestic issues like health care.

    Loebsack said he rejects allowing health care to be ”held hostage'' while the federal government tries to resolve the situation in Iraq.


    'A fence is not the answer to our border problem,' because it will be expensive but likely ineffective, Loebsack said. 'We need to beef up the traditional border control,' he said, as well as crack down on employers who use undocumented workers with stiffer penalties.

    'I'm not comfortable with fences, but I see no alternative,' Leach said.

    Jim Leach: the kinder, gentler Steve King.

    America's Dumbest Congressmen

    America's Dumbest Congressmen

    Amazingly, Steve King misses the top ten.

    GOTTA be number 11.

    Monday, October 16, 2006

    3rd Quarter Fundraising Data for Competitive House Races

    3rd Quarter Fundraising Data for Competitive House Races

    My DD looks at fundraising in competitive races.
    Dave Loebsack raised $91,725, spent $109,939 and had $40,809 on hand with $8757 of debt.
    Jim Leach raised $71,977, spent $96,361 and had $177,286 on hand with $187,000 of debt.

    Three things.

    1. Iowa 2 on a list of competitive races.
    2. Dave Loebsack raised $20,000 more than Jim Leach.
    3. Leach's $187,000 of debt. That's to himself; Leach broke out the checkbook again.

    Debate Daily Double: Loebsack-Leach

    Debate Daily Double: Loebsack-Leach

    Back to back debates and I'm going to do some live blogging from the Blog HQ.

    They're introing Leach with all his committe assignments and Loebsack with his academic credentials. Wonder if they wrote them themselves?

    Leach first: Dickensian. Should change come from "extreme edge" or the "common sense middle (i.e. me)

    Loebsack: Democrat is out of his mouth fast. Talks of Bush and congressional GOP, vs. hope and opportunity. Choices, not partisanship.

    The question by question approach ain't working for me.

    Loebsack has lots of details. Solid for single payer. Solid against border fence. Loebsack solid for Palestinian statehood and Bush has fumbled it. Whole problem is caught up in this issue. Iraq is taking away all the attention.

    Leach is adopting a "on the one hand on the other hand" approach designed to make himself look "moderate." For example, he defends the border fence by arguing that it beats vigilantism and "I see no alternative." Leach is "open to a number of policies" over and over again. Playing into his usual "above the fray" persona. Bashing PACs - but how much does he loan his own campaign?

    Both candidates are occasionally skipping rebuttal. Seems to be a very high-minded debate - looking forward to where the closing statements take it.

    Loebsack: "Leach's first vote will be for Denny Hastert and for the Republican leadership. Mine will be for Democratic leadership." Leach has not held GOP leadership accountable. I have a health care plan, he does not.

    Leach: Consider my record and approach to public service, decency and nonpartisanship. A couple jabs at "extremism" and lots of praise of moderation.

    But the world doesn't work that way anymore, Jim.

    Dave holds his own with Leach and looks credible, and every bit as serious.

    No daily double after all. KWQC does not have streaming video up and KWWL isn't showing it.

    Even the Brits are Laughing At Steve King

    Even the Brits are Laughing At Steve King

    From the Guardian:

    Voters in Iowa have on offer the Republican Steve King. He wants to keep out illegal immigrants by constructing a 700-mile wall along the border with Mexico. Better still, he built his own model of this 'Tortilla Curtain' out of cardboard and wire which he demonstrated to Congress in Blue Peter fashion. That is outdone in the crazy stakes by the Texan Republican Sam Johnson who offered personally to fly an F-15 to nuke Syria. Afterwards, he said he was: 'Kinda joking.' Don't you love the 'kinda'.

    But in the end a cautionary, comparative note:
    The story of this election is one of Republican collapse rather than any great enthusiasm for the Democrats. They don't have a clear message delivered by a popular and plausible leader. It is in the nature of the American system that the executive can speak with a single voice - that of the President - while the opposition talks in a cacophony of tongues.

    A senior member of the Clinton cabinet put it to me like this: 'The Democrats don't have one spokesman. They have 10 spokesmen.' There is no such thing as the Shadow President. If ever there was a country in need of a leader of the opposition, it is the United States today.

    Part of the different dynamics of our system. In America, parties choose the new leader then go immediately into the general election. In the UK, they have the equivalent of the primary season right AFTER the general election. You lose, you resign, the party chooses its new leader, then the new leader, in theory, has four to five years to make her or his case. Something to be said for doing it that way?

    Meanwhile Steve King gives the Brits more material, spending Saturday hangin' with the neo-Know-Nothings, the Minutemen. (No, not the D. Boon Minutemen.)

    Talking Points Memo notes:

    Normally at this phase of the cycle you're triaging races, pulling the plug on ones that didn't pan out and focusing money on races where wins still seem possible. But the playing field only seems to be expanding. In every cycle there are bunch of campaigns out there yammering on about how they're really in a winnable race and that they could win if only this or that party committee realize how close they and give them some money. This time, though, some of them, and possibly a lot of them, are going to be right.

    More Clinton coverage: DI and Iowa Politics.

    Loebsack-Leach debate tonight...

    Sunday, October 15, 2006

    Backwards Supper At Jefferson-Jackson

    Backwards Supper At Jefferson-Jackson

    It was backwards supper tonight: the normal protocol is that the big speaker is last not first. And we would up waiting a long time for dinner so people were nibbling on dessert.

    As I so briefly noted Bill Clinton’s still got it, both on stage and in person; the mobs waiting for handshakes were 1996 reminiscent. And usually I pass on such things but my daughter had a wonderful moment with him.

    Basic theme of the Clinton speech was “Mr. President, tell us what happened.” He said we can’t blame the entire Republican Party, because the whole government is now in the hands of the most extreme sliver of the Republican Party. And they only have three priorities:

  • The concentration of wealth (quotes warren Buffer: “the class war is over and my class won.”
  • Unlimited and unaccountable executive power (“there has never been a more secretive administration”)
  • And using ideology to paint themselves as pure and the rest of us as “stained” so they can divide the country and stay in power

    Clinton contends that the Democrats are now both the progressive party AND the conservative party, the only party representing the two main streams of though in American history.

    In oblique reference to his absent spouse – there were a couple brief direct references – he urged Dems to “forget about 2008” for the next three weeks and concentrate on 2006. As for the Dems message he circled back to energy independence several times, saying he got lucky with the tech boom of the 90s and adding America needs a new source of jobs every 5-8 years. Clean independent energy seems to be the course – welcome words to a room full of Iowa Dems.

    The press platform rapidly cleared after Clinton’s speech. The hat pass ensued with our own Dick Myers making the pitch and auctioning ties right off the necks of politicians. Tom Harkin had the double misfortune of speaking 1) just after Clinton and 2) just as dinner was served. I missed most of it for the chicken myself. No Vilsack presidential reference for the larger crowd like he made at the Humphrey Club…

    Vilsack took Nussle to task for attacking his administration in debates: “don’t throw stones at my house until your own house is in order.” He was in righteous angry mode a few times, and I wondered how that will play nationally. At the end of the speech he shouted he was proud to be a Democrat and I expected a list of states and a YEEEEEEEAH! Which was OK in a room full of diehards but without the crowd noise it might have seemed odd.

    All speakers after Clinton roamed the stage with the hand held mike; Clinton stayed at the podium but had folks spellbound (he even commented on how quiet and serious people seem this year, nationwide)

    Vilsack and Pederson both mentioned the Dems' edge in party registration – which is good but overrated. Hello? The Dems had a contested statewide primary four months ago and the GOP didn’t…

    The Mellencamp-Springsteen rule (these two artists account for 85% of entrance/exit music) was applied yet again, though Vilsack left the stage to, interestingly, BTO’s “You Ain't Seen Nothin’ Yet.”

    Patty Judge actually used the phrase “satellite voting” and good for her.

    Culver was introduced by a former student. Her civilian presence served as a reminder of just how polished any big time politician is as a public speaker. Culver’s speech escalated near the end and choice got the biggest cheers.

    Vilsack got bigger cheers when he announced that the Register poll numbers had been released. 46-39 Culver, Denise O’Brien up by 14, Mike Mauro well ahead… (Denise and Mike didn’t speak but were up on stage at the end of the night. The congressional challengers also didn’t speak – Dave Loebsack had to cut out early anyway for a Fort Madison event with John Edwards - but Leonard Boswell did.)

    That was a wrap for the speeches and the crowds lined up for one more chance at a Clinton handshake – I’d heard contradictory schedule stuff and thought the reason for his speaking first was an early departure but he stayed to the end, sitting with the Vilsacks. After he left my daughter scavenged some Culver signs and as many AFSCME mints as she could carry. Visited with Denise O’Brien on the way out, chatting with some Joyce Schulte staffers. She’s in the phase of the campaign where she knows about one day ahead on the schedule.

    We got out of HyVee Hall at about 11:30, our exit marred slightly by a woman who’d had a bit too much to drink who bumped into me, without looking, and then muttered “bastard” at me. Sad that someone has to drink to much at a classy, big ticket event, and it wasn’t fun to explain to my daughter, but it wasn’t enough to spoil my evening.

    Special thanks to everyone who was good to my daughter (you all know who you are) and to my stepdaughter Sarah for driving home so I could write this up and post ASAP.

    Note: Chris was more blogging-focused than I was (it was kind of a family outing for me) so he has more blow-by blow description. And thanks for the pix too. :)

    Now that I've written and posted, leads from old media:

  • Register lead: Forget about 2008.
  • Glover: "Former President Bill Clinton criticized the Bush administration Saturday for being 'secretive,' running up enormous deficits and wasting the budget surpluses he built in eight years in office..." Mike pegged the crowd at 3500 - it was beyond my counting capacity.
  • O. Kay: "Former President Bill Clinton told Iowa's Democratic Party faithful on Saturday that the actions of 'an extreme sliver' of the Republican Party have backfired and 'profoundly divided' the country..."
  • Saturday, October 14, 2006

    Damn 22nd Amendment Anyway

    Damn 22nd Amendment Anyway

    Clinton's still got it. Battery's dying. More later.



    A quick post before my salad... the Humphrey club reception was jam packed, Harkin makes a Vilsack for President reference, which was interesting in a heavy hitter crowd.there were a lot of very tall very thin women, and Gordon Fisher likes the Clash button on my laptop case, and Johnson County is well represented. The speeches were mostly praise for each other and trifecta.

    Someone slapped up a bunch of Hillary 08 signs outside the hall...

    Jefferson Jackson Update 1

    Jefferson Jackson Update 1

    Howdy from HyVee Hall. Outside the heavy hitter reception - doors are still open s I heard bits and pieces of Boswell, Harkin, and Culver. Things are on standby as of now (6 PM straight up) as it appears some things never change and Clinton is running behind. The people watching is fun - all the dignitaries of the IDP and lots of donors so far up in the stratosphere that I have no clue.

    My on the road charger malfunctioned so juice is low and I may not stay live...

    JOEBRIAC Report

    JOEBRIAC Report

    I can't remember exactly what the acronym means but it's something to with Joe Bolkcom's Bike Ride round Iowa City. We started with 30 bikers, 29 bikes (one tandem) and two canines.

    More bikers than politicos on this ride, though we did have Mayor Ross Wilburn, Tom Gill from the Coralville City Council and Soil & Water candidate Terry Dahms. No press so this is likely to be the only written account of the event.

    Ride was entirely within Senate District 39: City Park, down to Napoleon Park, over on Sycamore, up the soccer field trails, over to Scott Boulevard (the district line!) and back over toward Joe's house near 1st Avenue HyVee.

    A few of us who wound up in front got sidetracked from the official route by inadvertently getting mixed up with another group of bikers, but most of us eventually wound up at Joe's house. I think we ended up with 29 bikers, 28 bikes, one dog. Ended up with a bucket pass for the Iowa City Bike Library (NOT the campaign), and then I embarked on JDSBRBH (John Deeth's Solo Bike Ride Back Home).

    Stay tuned for the JJ updates.

    Bill Clinton to speak today at Iowa Democrats' fall gala

    Bill Clinton to speak today at Iowa Democrats' fall gala

    It's Jefferson-Jackson Day and I'll be there laptop at the ready.

    Clinton is expected to arrive shortly before a reception with key activists. He is expected to speak early in the program and be on his way back to New York before the event is finished, state party officials said.

    Missing John Edwards in Solon and Iowa City today due to a schedule confluct with Joe Bolkcom's bike ride. Don't get many chances to combine biking and politicking. But Tuesday we get a double deal: lunch with John Kerry, dinner with Dodd.

    The Secretary of Ag candidates do Iowa Press this weekend. Even national sources (NY Times?!?) are noticing that this race is hot.

    When asked whether large-scale hog facilities should be promoted in Iowa, the candidates parted ways again. 'We need to allow modern facilities that are built with environmentally-responsible techniques,' said Northey, former president of the National Corn Growers Association.

    O'Brien repeated several times her support for encouraging small- to medium-sized farms that will attract new farmers to grow organic products - a big growth industry - along with grapes, corn, soybeans and livestock. 'I think it's in the state's interest to encourage dispersed agriculture,' O'Brien said.

    The candidates offered different views on who should have ultimate control over the development and siting of giant hog production facilities. State environmental regulators now have the final say.

    O'Brien argued that local officials know their communities and should make final decisions. She suggested panels that include local health officials along with county supervisors.

    'There's a uniqueness in Iowa,' said O'Brien. 'Our communities should be trusted to decide if the locations are correct in their communities.'

    She said it's an economic and social question as well as an environmental issue.

    'In the last decade we've gone from 60,000 hog farmers to 11,000 hog farmers,' she said, blaming the shift on larger production units.

    Northey opposed the call for more local control. State regulations could be tweaked to accommodate such needs as larger setbacks from tourist attractions, but Northey said current rules are fundamentally working well.

    O'Brien: For family farms and local control. Northey: for hog lots and no local control.

    Glover also looks at the overall battle for legislative control, but unfortunately just skims the surface. Clsest we get to what I'm looking for:

    Rants said open seats in rural Story County, Cedar Rapids and Cedar Falls likely will determine control of the chamber...

    Maybe I'm a junkie but name the seats, Mike.

    And the Press-Citizen gives the Loebsack-Leach poll changing headlines. Yesterday afternoon they posted it as breaking news (after lagging behind the bloggers by a news cycle):

    Loebsack one point ahead in recent poll

    But on line this morning the lead has transmogrified into

    Loebsack, Leach in tight race

    Haven't seen print yet but I'm betting they go with the latter.

    Friday, October 13, 2006

    Leach Gettin' Nervous?

    Leach Gettin' Nervous?

    Chris steers us to of all places the Leach site:

    Noting that he has requested that outside parties not participate with independent expenditures in his Congressional race, Leach requested the party to cease and desist mailings in his district.

    Leach noted that he was “appalled” by the negative nature of the material the party developed.

    But if he wasn't worried, would he have bothered? Would the RPI have bothered with the mailing in the first place?

    The piece I saw last night had the usual laughable crap, along the lines of "Loebsack loves terrorists." But the clincher was the fuzzy, 3/4 profile picture of Dave that made him look exactly like Vladimir Ilyich Loebsack.

    UPDATE: MyDD moves race to "Tier 1.5 - Projected Gains: 3-5" (of 14). And another debate Monday...

    My favorites are always the ads which are supposed to be negative but make ME like a candidate MORE.
    Howard Dean is for gay marriage, abortion and socialized medicine!
    Great! He's got MY vote!

    Soccer Ball Slug Bug!

    Soccer Ball Slug Bug!

    Seen on Linn Street in Iowa City Thursday evening. No slug bug back.

    Culver, Nussle clash in debate

    Culver, Nussle clash in debate

    Strummer with running mate Mick Jones and campaign manager Paul Simonon

    The Gazette headline gives me a bizarre vision of Joe Strummer's punky ghost debating Culver and Nussle... Strummer would be the clear winner in that exchange despite his untimely demise, but let's look at what really happened:

  • Glover: Culver, Nussle focus on minority issues in latest debate
  • Beaumont: Bias talk sharpens at debate
  • DI: Culver, Nussle exchange jabs

    So two combative metaphors and two "they had the minority sponsored debate" leads. No one liberated Poland. We didn't hear:
    I know Ted Kennedy. I campaigned with Ted Kennedy. My dad roomed with Ted Kennedy. Congressman, you're no Ted Kennedy.

    Well, maybe that wouldn't work. But Ted Kennedy seems to be the GOP's latest Mark Foley defense:
    When Kennedy came to Connecticut last week to help Diane Farrell campaign, Rep. Christopher Shays hit back.

    'I know the speaker didn't go over a bridge and leave a young person in the water, and then have a press conference the next day,' said Shays, referring to the 1969 incident in which the Massachusetts Democrat drove a car that plunged into the water and a young campaign worker died.

    'Dennis Hastert didn't kill anybody,' he added.

    Back in Iowa, Rasmussen has a new poll:

    It's tied once again, 42% to 42% When leaners are added in the mix, Nussle has 45% and Culver 44%.

    The classic squeaker race that gets decided by motivation and get out the vote.

    Mark Warner is out. I completely missed that surprise in my in-box yesterday. Various on-line speculation: helps Edwards is near unanimous, a couple folks mention helps Bayh, helps Richardson, hurts Clinton. Kos:
    Hillary will do best if the field remains cluttered with a ton of men. That way, she can win primaries with 30 percent of the vote. If the field narrows quickly, she'd be in trouble.

    Can't find it on line, but Olbermann last night quoted Al Gore equivocating to a French publication about will he or won't he...